Reflection for Thursday, September 28, 2000: 25th week in Ordinary Time.

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Scritchfield, Shirley
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"'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'. . .There is no remembrance of people of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow."|"So teach us to count our days that we may gain wise heart."|Do you ever play the game of "if only?" I do. . . "if only I had more time, if only this report were finished, if only I had chosen differently, if only my son would. . ., if only my spouse would . . . , if only I could get some rest, if only we had more money, if only. . ., then things would be great, perfect ." Now, don't get me wrong, I don't spend inordinate amounts of time playing this game . . . but I do play it. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone, that my propensities are human ones, shared by many.|We humans often live our lives in quest of the "fulfilled life"-we look for pleasure, wealth, peace, whatever we think will bring us a sense of purpose, accomplishment and fulfillment. And, if we're not careful, we spend our time wishing away our todays-playing "if only" ...|And then, in today's scriptures, we hear the words of Solomon-and, if we listen, we are brought up short. You remember Solomon, son of David, the King who possessed all the wealth, wisdom, and opportunities one human could attain. He didn't have to play "if only"-because he "had it all." And, yet, listen to what he tells us as he reflects upon his life as he approaches his earthly demise. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" Whoa! Strong language to describe life-vanity, meaningless, useless-not a very optimistic picture.|Worse than that! As I understand it-in Hebrew, if a word is repeated even once, it is for added for emphasis. In this case, it appears several times in one verse. So, Solomon is telling us-"everything is really, really, really, really, completely and totally meaningless, empty, futile." What a conclusion for Solomon to make! And, he "had it all."|Joseph Conrad once said that many people work to climb the ladder of success, only to get to the top and find that the ladder they climbed is leaning against the wrong wall. Sound familiar? It does to me. Many of us frantically pursue the things Solomon did-especially if we are U.S. citizens, for we are supposed to be in pursuit of the "good life." The only problem is-as Solomon tells us-that is NOT the good life, that is emptiness, meaningless, we're climbing the wrong ladder.|So-o, what is the right ladder? If all that we pursue in this world is for naught, will be forgotten upon our earthly death, then what are we to do? Why bother? Wait, it is important to remember that Solomon was looking at life merely at the human level, from a human perspective. What about from God's perspective?|I think a hint of the answer to this puzzle is found in the Psalm for today, "So teach us to count our days, so that we might have a wise heart." To me that says, live in the moment-be present to the world and people around you. Buddhists refer to the term "mindfulness"-I like to think of it as being open to grace, to being present to God's presence in the every day moments of life. It is in those little moments of touching one another, God's creation-yes, God . . . that we may know meaning. So-o, on this day, I pray in the words of Joyce Rupp, Let me be a silent admirer of all that is sacred. Let me be reverent in the presence of another. Let me restore my inner eye.|Let me put to rest the wildness of endless activity.|Let me end my seeking the glitter of streets that go nowhere.|May it be so.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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